Delivering Value Through Product Development in FinTech

  • Mario Hoek, Chief Product Officer at Pyypl

  • 16.06.2022 10:59 am

Finance is, and historically has been for many centuries, one of the most lucrative, but arguably one of the most complex, sectors of the economy. Having a financial system with products and services that serve the contemporary needs of both businesses and consumers is vital to ensuring the well-being and advancement of all society. 

Today, FinTechs are disrupting the finance game across the world, using technology to provide new and improved financial products across alternative platforms and systems. Globally, the financial technology market is projected to reach a value of $305 billion by 2025, according to Market Data Forecast.

In a region such as the Middle East and Africa (MEA), where 800 million are severely underbanked or financially underserved, FinTechs are vital in promoting financial inclusion and driving forward the digital economy. From streaming services to digital healthcare and online education, those not connected to the formal financial system are at risk of being left behind.

Yet consumers from countries in this region have specific financial needs often not addressed by large global FinTechs, whose products and services are designed to meet the needs of a vastly different demographic. Having a deep understanding of the end-user and their unique needs is crucial for FinTechs in MEA to develop successful products that will solve real-world, local problems, such as a lack of access to bank accounts or credit, and a heavy reliance on cash and expensive overseas remittance.

Designed with the consumer in mind

In the past, product development was achieved by trying to assess the needs of the market and building a product based on those perceived needs. In today’s customer-centric societies with ever-changing needs and demographics, it’s essential to be able to learn fast and develop and adjust even faster. 

This rings even more true for FinTechs, who are looking to meet the varied financial needs of a rapidly evolving and increasingly tech-savvy society. 

In a fast-growing FinTech industry looking to develop products that serve the specific needs of the hundreds of millions of underbanked in the region, it is more important than ever to not only have a deep understanding of the customer but to be able to learn from them. 

FinTechs with product development teams that have a better ability to learn from their customers will ultimately be better at meeting their financial needs. Whether it's working more closely with the marketing team to garner customer insights or building in formal and informal customer feedback cycles into product development processes, this will allow us to continuously adapt to evolving customer needs.

This customer learning is also an essential part of the product discovery process. By funnelling customer feedback and insights, product teams are better able to understand the exact problems that need to be solved and develop prototypes to be tested before deciding whether to move ahead with their development. Adopting this kind of product-centric approach rather than a marketing or sales-centric approach ensures that the innovative FinTech products and services being developed have the biggest impact and achieve wider customer adoption. 

Proprietary tech – a competitive edge 

Flexible, agile processes across departments enable more tailored product innovation and a greater ability to deliver value across the business. New FinTech products developed in this way will enjoy the most success.

However, it is not enough to design high-quality, tailored products that meet the unique needs of your diverse customer base, if the customer is unable to access them. 

Having proprietary tech and integrated and scalable systems and solutions is key to rolling out country-specific products and services quickly, without having to rely on third parties, or be hindered by them.  The employment of “in-house” technologies not only means a better ability to shape products for customers in different markets but also enables more efficient time-to-market. 

A winning approach

As businesses continue to adapt to shifting consumer demands, product development is also seeing a heightened focus on areas such as user experience. For example, compare the speed and ease of using an app to carry out a real-time payment transfer over a secure blockchain system with just a few taps, compared to a traditional bank transfer which requires multiple steps, codes, pins and approvals, and can take a few days to arrive in the recipient’s account.

Building internal teams where everybody is self-reliant and feels that they’re empowered to bring these user-centric solutions to market is crucial. Through adopting a modular approach and encouraging teams to act as individual islands of expertise – from technology to design, product, quality assurance and delivery – while fostering collaboration across the different teams, both the time-to-market and quality of the products can be significantly improved.

Cross-department collaboration, agile processes and a customer-centric focus are key to delivering a winning multi-product, multi-market approach across a multi-jurisdictional Middle East and Africa, and fundamentally ensuring a more secure financial future for millions. 

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